Leading color and materials expert, Laura Guido-Clark, opened our eyes to the power of color. Color is more than just paint on the walls. The brain perceives color through wavelengths, and different wavelengths have proven physiological effects on our neural pathways. To leverage color as a meaningful part of WX in your office, it cannot be an afterthought. Companies who default to covering every surface of their workplace in brand colors are likely missing out on an opportunity to make a powerful impact on the mood and productivity of their workers. Understand the goals of your organization and color your space to support those goals.
James Waddell of Habitat Soundscaping by Plantronics educated the Summit on some of the less obvious aspects of biophilic design. As biophilic design grows in mainstream recognition, it is important to understand that it is much more than filling your office space with plants. In reality, properly executed biophilic design brings aspects of the natural world into the space that support human health and productivity. What does biophilic design look like when done right? Designing a space that maximizes employees’ exposure to natural light throughout the day is one example. Augmenting artificial surfaces that create loud, echoing spaces (a particular pain point in open offices) to minimize noise pollution is another way to bring the serenity humans feel in nature into the office. Take a look at your office and how you might be able to make it feel a little more natural (and please make it more than a handful of potted fiddle-leaf figs).
Jim Mueller, Universal Design expert, shared the importance of designing for an increasingly diverse workforce. As technology expands and the world gets smaller, we find ourselves surrounded by people from a wide variety of backgrounds and abilities. Inclusive design entails creating spaces that are welcoming and accessible to people of all backgrounds and physical ability levels. By enhancing thoughtful design with technology to enable underrepresented groups, organizations can create a competitive advantage by recruiting from a broader talent pool – and help all employees to bring their best selves to work every day.
Voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa have become commonplace in people’s homes. As workplace design and strategy trends toward a “resimercial” model – a concept that strives to bring the comforts of home into the office – we will see these voice assistants occupy more and more of a place in the office technology landscape. By offloading mundane operational tasks on these voice assistants, we enable workers to spend less time on the mundane and more time on their areas of expertise to do great work.
Rimma Boshernitsan is CEO of Dialogue, a consultancy that creates pop-up think-tank experiences to help companies think deeper about important topics. She spoke on the utility of AI in the workplace and how we, as people, can prepare for a future of increasingly intelligent technologies. There are constant concerns about machines taking away people’s jobs as technology improves and gets more sophisticated. The reality is allowing machines to take on the mundane tasks that are an inherent part of running a business gives people the opportunity to imbue the workplace with something machines can’t duplicate: human connection.
There’s no way to know exactly where the future will take us, but with the way things are headed, we’re pretty excited for the journey. As professionals across IT, HR, Real Estate, and Facilities learn more about each others’ worlds and collaborate with employee needs in mind, the workplace will keep getting better and better. As we improve together, the future really does look amazing.